Raising a 13 year old has given me a lot of reason to think about control and how little of it I really have. And since Malaika is adopted I have been appreciating how much heredity and the environment play into life. Do we really have control?
We do have the free will to make our own decision, good or poor. But we also know the power of habits and influence. We can be manipulated by advertisers, the situation or our past.
It seems we give ourselves a huge advantage if we are clear about the things we control, the things we influence, and the things over which we have little or no control. We certainly have control over our thoughts and attitudes. Our thoughts and attitudes in any situation are ours to choose. We can think about silly things, like a pink elephant in the living room, or we can think about our family and how we want to spend time with them. We can choose to think about things we want to change, habits and actions. We can choose to think about what we don’t have or be grateful for what we do have.
Other things we can influence, but our control is much less direct. My influence over government policy is pretty minimal, but I can choose to vote or not vote. I can choose to send an e-mail or a letter and voice my opinion, but I don’t have much influence. However, I have a little more influence over family, friends and my environment. I can’t control every detail, but my words, my attitude and my behaviors make a difference. By setting an example, we can have a great influence over others, especially our children. We can often make a huge difference in life by exerting our influence for the best possible outcomes.
Finally, there are many things over which we have no control; the weather, gravity, time and other people’s choices, attitudes or behaviors. And the sooner we accept that, the happier and more peaceful we will be. Fighting against or resenting things we cannot control is a mark of immaturity. There is no point in fighting against things that simply “are.” I love the saying “it is what it is”. That’s my motto for this year. That doesn’t mean to give up, but to accept the things you can’t change. So I choose to understand that the only one I have total control over is myself. I can only influence others and the situation. And I hope my influence is for the better.